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Title: Love As Thou Wilt
Author: caitri
Rating: NC-17 (Language, Sex)
Pairings: Kirk/McCoy
Word Count: 13,432
Summary: AU. Jim Kirk nó Pike is a broken hero. Leonard McCoy is an adept of Balm House, trained in healing. What the two of them find together, neither ever expected. An STXI mashup with Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series.
Warning: Mentions past non-con and past character deaths.
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Gene Roddenberry, J.J. Abrams, Paramount or Bad Robot. Just so you know.
A/N: Written for the wonderful blue_jack’s birthday! Kindly beta’d by suddenlyswept. <3




“Leonard.” It’s Christine. She looks hesitant, unsure; her light eyes are wide. “Dowayne Gaila wants to see you.”

Leonard nods to her in acknowledgement. “Watch your left shoulder,” he instructs the adept from Eglantine House, who had wrenched it during a performance of acrobatics in—of all places—Night’s Doorstep. He had refrained from asking—as one of the healers of Balm House, it’s none of his business, and he doesn’t care anyway. “Keep it wrapped up like I showed you for the next four days.”

The adept nods at him, and the woman who accompanies him gives him a small smile. “We thank you,” she says, and presents him with a flat box in payment. Leonard takes it with another nod, and then puts it away as he follows Christine down the hall. He knows what it must contain: a gift of cloth for a new tunic, or perhaps a sumptuously bound book, or a piece of art. These are what the adepts of other Houses often contribute in payment to him personally, though their own Dowaynes will make a gift of money to his House on his behalf.

Leonard’s work as a healer is well-known, and both Night Court adepts and denizens of the City of Elua come to him for his aid, but this work does not pay for his marque. The way things have been going, he will repay his House in servitude for the rest of his life. Otherwise, only Naamah’s grace will give him the freedom he craves, and though there are times when he feels Her with him, he never seems to please his patrons. The few gifts he has received—he breaks off this thought. He needs to concentrate on the here and now, not on could-be’s and wishes.

“What’s going on?” he asks Christine quietly.

“I’m not sure,” she says, lifting a blue-clad shoulder in a helpless shrug. A true adept of Naamah, the simple gesture is graceful and lovely.

Beauty is a way of life in Terre d’Ange, of course. Leonard, long an adept of Balm (too damn long, points out that irritating little voice in his head) measures beauty in the lines of a healthy body, the neatness of well-healed skin that will not leave a scar, the steady song of a firm heartbeat and clear lungs. He finds these things infinitely more pleasing than the usual meeting of flesh in Naamah’s dance, though there is joy in that too.

Leonard represses a frustrated sigh, and the two adepts walk side by side to Gaila’s rooms. Gaila is the new Dowayne of his House, and a summons to her chambers usually means one of two things: either an assignation is in the offing, or someone wants to complain about his, er, bedside manner. And too few patrons in these last years have offered for him, and none in the past months, so he doubts that this is what they are meeting about.

Thus, Leonard isn't sure what he's expecting when he arrives at the Dowayne's chambers, but it isn't—this.

Jim Kirk nó Pike kneels on the ground in a position very close to abeyante, but when Leonard enters their gazes meet. Jim's is a blue look, almost hypnotizing, and something unexpectedly unfurls in Leonard's stomach like the beating of wings.

Everyone knows the story of Jim Kirk. It’s a story that Leonard envies in some ways. As a boy he was purchased by the Duke Christopher Pike, the King’s own Spymaster—not that anyone knew that at the time. Back then, what people did know was that he had three proteges named Spock, Nyota, and Jim. The three of them were beautiful and brilliant, almost inhumanly so at times. Jim Kirk above them all: he was something like a golden prince, and his virgin price alone paid his marque. Fostered and trained by the adepts of Orchis House, he gave patrons joy and laughter with his body, and it was said that those who left his bed did so with a smile and a spring in their step.

No less had been said of his foster-siblings, though Leonard hadn’t paid as much attention to them at the time. Spock was fostered by Gentian House. Leonard had heard that the pale man with the severe, serious expression was something of a seer. He saw the truth of people, and that was his undoing… Nyota, though, had been trained as an adept of Heliotrope. Their canon was devotion, and it was well known how she loved Spock, her loyalty to Pike and to Jim second only to the man who was her consort.

Yes, the three of them together were something: stories of lucky patrons who purchased a night with all three of them were something like legends. Sworn to Naamah and to Pike, they were feted and admired and coveted—and then there was the Tiberian War. Terre d’Ange almost fell then, but for the quick thinking of Jim Kirk, who discovered the plans of Lord Nero—and, the rest was history. Bloody, dark, history…

“Come,” Gaila says with her gentle smile, and Leonard blinks. He realizes he’s been standing there, lost in his thoughts, and he joins them. He kneels near the other man, eyes cast down as he has always been taught to do. "This is Leonard," she continues to Jim. "I think you two will suit one another admirably." He can’t help it then, he’s so startled, he looks up in astonishment.

Jim looks dubious. Leonard doesn’t blame him. "Why haven't I seen you before?" the man asks with a directness that would be rude from anyone else. But somehow Leonard knows the crisp, clipped words aren’t aimed at him, not really, and without thinking he answers, "I suppose you never opened your damn eyes to look, is why."

Leonard has seen Jim before, in fact—he and Spock and Nyota all. At the Midwinter Masque three years gone, he saw them together, even spoke with Jim himself. The theme that year had been night, and many of the guests had worn dark cloth sewn with sparkling stones and decorations to resemble the evening sky. But the scions of Pike had worn bright colors: Nyota a pale pink gown in homage to the planet Venus, Spock in crimson garb to resemble Mars, and Jim, of course, had worn gold to be—what else?—the Sun itself.

Jim had teased him directly, when the members of Balm House had entered in their measured and easy pace. Leonard’s own costume had matched that of the other adepts of the House: all of them wearing loose tunics in the Tiberian style, the fabric dyed in a floating radial pattern meant to mimic the legendary Northern Lights of the far north.

“Aren’t you chilly in that?” he’d asked. “Looks a bit drafty to me.”

“Drafty, my ass,” Leonard had muttered darkly. Christine had pinched him for his rudeness, but Jim had grinned at him widely in genuine amusement, before being pulled away by Nyota.

Jim clearly doesn’t remember all this, however, and why should he? The moment had meant nothing to him. Leonard doesn’t even know why he remembers it, he just—does.

Gaila makes a soft sound between a choked laugh and a moan of disappointment after Leonard has spoken, and he knows he's blown it once again, must've done, but then to his surprise, Jim laughs: long and hard, before showing that same wide grin Leonard remembered so clearly from years before.

"Fair enough," the golden man says. He turns back to the Dowayne. "I wish his services for the week. At my estate." Leonard refrains from dropping his jaw, but only just.

A week?

"We'll draw the contract for you now," Gaila says.

~

If the Dowayne is surprised at the request, her expression betrays nothing.

No one has ever contracted Leonard for a week, not for Naamah’s grace, at least. He signs his name on the papers, feeling a little dazed. But the base fee for such a time alone will go a ways towards his marque—he tsks himself, trying not to get his hopes up. Jim may not have him stay that long anyway; so few patrons do. He glances at the other man when he hands the quill back, and is surprised to find Jim looking at him. There’s something unfathomable in those eyes, and though their look is cool, something in Leonard heats at their gaze.

Their assignation will take place in four days.

“I look forward to seeing you, Leonard,” Jim says to him as he leaves. Turning to Gaila, he continues, “Make sure he brings things suitable for out of doors. I like spending time outside.” And with that, he’s gone.

The night before Leonard leaves, Christine comes to his room and watches him pack. “Not that one,” she says as she pulls a tunic from his traveling trunk. “Take this one instead. It brings out your eyes.” She selects a light blue tunic instead, and adds an older pair of worn breeches. “He wants you to bring things to wear outside,” she reminds him. “Those will do.”

“I have gone on assignations before, Chris,” he says in irritation.

“Not like this, you haven’t,” she answers gently. “Now stop acting like it doesn’t matter to you what happens.”

He makes a face at her, but takes her advice. He adds his healer’s bag last, just in case, and then he’s ready.

In the morning, a carriage arrives for him, the emblem of Pike’s house emblazoned on its doors. A cheerful man named Scotty drives it, greeting Leonard politely.

“Pleased to meet ye, sir,” he says with a respectful nod. He eyes Leonard’s luggage questioningly: the small trunk, the smaller bag he carries over his shoulder. “Is this all, then?”

“Yes.” Leonard is short, because it is true.

“Mmph. I always imagined ye Servants of Naamah to be more—“ He makes a gesture that Leonard can’t quite interpret; he’s not sure if it was meant to be lewd, but it doesn’t seem entirely innocent either. But he doesn’t explicate his meaning, and he finally shrugs. “As ye will, then, sir.”

The Kirk estate is located a half day’s journey outside the City proper. Somehow Leonard had never thought to associate the infamous Jim Kirk with the green and lush countryside, with its rolling hills and horses grazing idly, the smell of fruit and growing things as thick as honey in the air.

But this is where Kirk’s man brings him.

The house is two stories built of stone, with flowering vines growing over the walls. A carefully tended garden surrounds it, and further back is a barn and an orchard with at least a dozen apple trees—probably more, judging from the scent in the air. For a moment, Leonard strains to remember if Pike was of Anael’s line, but the carriage comes to a stop at the home’s door, and he sees him.

Jim is dressed in a simple linen shirt with its sleeves rolled up and leather breeches. The day is warm, and there are beads of sweat on his face and dirt on his hands. Leonard feels that he should be shocked that a former House adept should ever present themselves as less than perfect, but at that moment Leonard thinks that perhaps the other man couldn’t be more perfect if he tried. He takes a moment to just appreciate Jim’s beauty: the healthy glow of his sun-kissed skin, the way his clothing clings to the lines of his body. The man grins at him, as if following his thoughts, and Leonard feels his own lips quirk upwards in response.

“Surprised you, have I?” Jim asks. “Leonard McCoy of Balm House?”

“Hardly.” Leonard snorts, choosing to make a show of being nonplussed. It’s what patrons always expect, anyway—and it seems to be what Jim wants right now, as well. “’Sides, you’re Jim Kirk. I thought you lived to shock people.”

Jim laughs at that, a clear, honest sound. For a moment, Leonard feels chagrin; wishes he could be himself, too, with this man. But he can’t. The real Leonard McCoy is not someone people care to meet—certainly not heroes of the kingdom, he is sure.

“Come on in,” Jim says.

Leonard follows him inside, where a young man with large eyes and a mop of curls bobs his head at them. “This is Pavel,” Jim says. “He’ll take you to your room, show you around the place and all. I’ve got a few things I want to finish up outside first, and then I need to clean up. I’ll see you at dinner.” He nods at them both and then disappears.

“Is he always like that?” Leonard asks Pavel curiously.

“Like vhat?” the young man—boy, almost—wants to know. He speaks with a thick accent—Muscovite, he thinks.

Leonard opens his mouth, then closes it again. Unexpected? Hyper? Beautiful? He’s not sure how he wants to answer, anyway. “Never mind,” he mutters.

Pavel smiles at him. “Come vith me.”

He gives Leonard the tour, as promised.

There’s an arboretum with sunny windows and numerous plants. The formal dining room has a long table nearly the length of the room itself. A receiving room, filled with what must be the souvenirs of Pike’s own travels: maps across the walls, the horns of splendid beasts, the art and bric-a-brac of at least a dozen cultures. And then, a magnificent library: filled with hundreds and hundreds of books. It looks out into the orchard, where he can see Jim and another man examining plants seriously, deep in conversation.

“Zat is Hikaru,” Pavel says with surprising fondness. “It is the growing season, you see, and he and my lord are quite busy.”

“Mmm.” Leonard makes a listening noise, but mostly he just watches Jim. Hikaru says something and the blonde man throws his head back and laughs, eyes shut in delight, and Hikaru laughs as well. Leonard feels his own lips twitching upwards in response, just watching Jim at ease.

“My lord Kirk is a good man,” Pavel says then, looking at him earnestly. “He has not been himself, not since—not since the War. He pretends at happiness, but he is not happy. You see? He is like a ghost. You can help him, maybe, we hope?”

His men love him, Leonard realizes, though not with surprise. He feels it, too, after all, that strange magnetic hold Jim Kirk casts about himself.

“I don’t know, kid,” he says honestly, “but I’ll see what I can do.”

“Is good,” Pavel says with relief.

Leonard swallows at that, unsure of what to say, so he says nothing. He just—he hopes that whatever happens, he can help Jim.

He is a healer, after all.

The tour concludes with Jim’s bedroom, and then Leonard’s own guestroom, which is furnished with a full bath and a comfortable-looking bed. His trunk is sitting neatly in the corner by a chest of drawers.

“Vill there be anything else, sir?” Pavel asks as Leonard looks around.

Leonard shakes his head. “No,” he says. “I think I’m good. Should I stay here, or—?” He breaks off, uncertain. Usually when adepts are contracted, they aren’t exactly left to their own devices.

Luckily Pavel seems to understand. “You have the full run of the house, sir. Ve are at your service. If you need anything, just let me know. Dinner vill be early here, at six. It is because our master is up at dawn, you see,” he explains with the slightest hint of apology. He continues hesitantly, with a a questioning note in his voice, “I have heard things are wery different in the City?” He looks younger than ever.

“Formal dinners take place later in the evening,” Leonard assents. “Informal meals are taken whenever the host wills.”

“I see,” says Pavel. He looks hungry for more information, but shy.

Leonard represses a chuckle. “If you want to ask me something, kid, so ahead. I don’t mind.”

Pavel flushes darkly. “It is only—I have newer seen a Serwant of Naamah.”

Ah, so that was it. Leonard holds his arms up slightly, showing their emptiness, then bringing them back down abruptly. His palms slap his thighly lightly. “Not much to see,” he says. “I’m from Balm House. We’re not as—flashy as the others.”

“I—see.” Pavel flushes, and Leonard can see that he doesn’t, not quite.

“It’s not all glamour, kid,” he says patiently. “Trust me. I’m like any other indentured
servant in the country.”

Pavel gapes at that, opening and closing his mouth wordlessly. “Oh. Vhen vill—vhen vill—“

“Good question,” Leonard cuts him off. “I don’t know, either.” When he says nothing further, the boy makes that little bobbing head gesture again, and then he’s gone.

Leonard decides to clean himself up a bit. He washes briefly and changes clothes, selecting the light blue tunic that Chris had pulled out for him, and a pair of light colored breeches.

Jim had said he’d see him at dinner, and it’s still mid-afternoon, so after a moment he decides to go to the library. He examines the books there with interest. Many of them are old, most embossed with the Pike family crest. They are in a multitude of languages, too, and on a variety of subjects. They are even organized with the care of a booklover: one bookcase devoted to the sciences, one to history, one to literature and poetry, and so on. His eye catches the name of Thelesis de Mornay, and he pulls out a shiny, worn volume. It’s the Ysandrine Cycle. He’s always loved the classic, so he sits down in one of the nearby chairs and begins to read.

Rereading de Mornay, he’s struck by the similarities between the Skaldi Invasion and the recent Tiberian War. His lips curve slightly as he imagines Jim Kirk nó Pike as the fabled Phédre nó Delaunay, and then he frowns, for Chris Pike was a bit of an Anafiel, and Spock and Nyota too similar to the pale, tragic Alcuin… But then he’s caught up in the story again, the flight across the Camaeline Mountains and then the riddle of the Master of the Straits…

He looks up several hours later to see Jim sitting across from him, cheek cupped in his palm as he watches him read, a small smile on his lips. The man’s hair is still slightly damp from a recent bath, a stray lock sticking to his forehead. He’s changed into a brilliant ivory shirt and brown breeches, and he looks like some cross between a rakish nobleman and a farmboy in from the harvest. He glows with good health, and his air is cocksure, especially with that smile—that smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. The smile that grows when they make eye contact.

“That’s one of my favorite books,” Jim says.

“Mine too.” Leonard’s mouth is dry, suddenly, and so he says the first thing that pops into his head, which is, “I always wanted to be just like Joscelin Verreuil when I was a boy.”

Jim’s smile grows wider still. “I didn’t read it until I was already in Pike’s service, but when I did I asked to be taught Cassiline arms. I can show you how to tell the hours while you’re here, if you like.”

Leonard blinks. He imagines what Jim would look like in the sober gray clothing of the Cassiline Brothers, with the sword and twin daggers and vembraces, and a desire as keen and sharp as a blade cuts through him abruptly. “I’d like that,” he mutters. Coughs. “It’d be—interesting.”

Jim nods and smiles, and his mouth is open to continue when Pavel enters. “Dinner is served, my lords,” he says politely with that odd little bob of his.

“Thanks, Pavel,” Jim says. He raises a quizzical eyebrow at Leonard. “Shall we?”

~

The boy leads them to the formal dining room he saw earlier. Two places are set at the giant table; Jim heads towards the seat just to the side of the head of the table, as if out of habit, then with a small frown he swerves at the last second to take the head seat. Leonard works to keep his expression neutral, though he can feel his brow furrowing in puzzlement anyway. Then he looks closer, and sees that the three chairs around the head chair are the only ones that have cushions, and he realizes that this must be a holdover from when Pike and the others still lived here.

He hasn’t changed anything.

Jim places a napkin in his lap, beaming at Pavel with a small nod, and then the food is brought out. The two men eat wordlessly. The silence is more companionable than not, at least; Jim asks no awkward questions meant to stimulate conversation, like he’s enjoying being quiet too.

The meal itself is simple but hearty country fare: thick, heavy bread with butter, a delicious cassoulet, a dessert of fruit and cream. Afterwards both men sit back, nursing small glasses of cordial.

“So tell me about yourself, Leonard,” Jim says at last. His light blue eyes are cool, assessing. Leonard suddenly feels like he is being tested in a way he wasn’t before the Dowayne, and this unsettles him. But he leans back, crossing his arms, making a show of his ease.

“I was born to Camellia House,” he says slowly. “You know their canon?” Jim nods, but Leonard continues anyway. “Perfection.” He points to the place above his right eyebrow, where a pair of small moles sit, and then to his nose, just a bit too large for his face. “When I was ten, they sold me to Balm House. I fit in much better there. Some of us receive training as healers, you see.”

“Why didn’t Dowayne Gaila bring you out with the others?”

Leonard represses a sigh; it always comes to this. “You might not have noticed, but I’m hardly a pleasing man,” he says honestly. “I’m cynical about people—I can’t help that. I’m shit at—I don’t dissemble well.” He twists his lips in amusement. “I’ve been told that adepts with my temperament usually go to Mandrake House, and that it’s a cosmic joke I’m in Balm instead. May be, at that,” he admits. “My skills as a healer are preferred to my skills in bedding, if that’s what you want to know, though I have been trained of course. But that work hasn’t helped me with my marque.”

Something flits across Jim’s face—Leonard isn’t sure what. “Show me,” Kirk says instead.

Leonard nods at him, then stands up. It’s considered vulgar to display an unfinished marque, but somehow it doesn’t bother him that Jim wants to see it. He slowly undoes the fastenings to his tunic, then opens it up and lets it slide off his bare shoulders. He turns his back so that Jim can see what progress has been made towards his freedom.

It is woeful, he knows. It may well be a record of some kind, that an adept approaching thirty barely has the limning for the base. The design of Balm House is lemon balm, and he pictures in his mind the tattoos he has seen of the other adepts who have made their marques: the graceful unfurling of leaves and tiny buds, the whorl of roots and the shape of stems.

He feels warm hands on his back, and his skin prickles at the contact. Jim’s breath is warmer still on the back of his neck. “I think you’re beautiful, Leonard,” Jim murmurs in his ear, “and people disappoint me sometimes.”

Then Jim’s lips are on the flesh of his shoulder, along the lines of his neck, and Leonard feels himself stir with interest. He turns in the other man’s arms, tilting his head invitingly for a kiss. Jim leans in for a moment, then pulls back at the last second, shaking his head before pushing him back slightly so that Leonard is balanced at the end of the table, Jim stepping in between his legs. “Just—let me do this,” the blonde man murmurs, long fingers pulling at the laces of Leonard’s breeches.

His breath catches when Jim’s long fingers grasp his cock. “Jim,” he exhales roughly, almost a growl really. Jim grins at him, a flash of white teeth and those blue eyes squinting in amusement, and then the younger man is falling gracefully to his knees.

“You’re mine right now, remember?” he says as he tugs Leonard’s breeches open, exposing his burgeoning erection. “Relax, Leonard,” he continues. “This—it’s not a Showing, or something. It’s a—consider it an homage. For Naamah’s sake.” And then Jim’s mouth is on his cock, and Blessed Elua, the man’s mouth is like a dream.

The act of the languissement is one of the earliest lessons of the Trois Milles Joies. Adepts of all Houses study the text from the moment their apprenticeships begin to the date of their first Showing, when they first watch trained adepts practice the arts of Naamah.

Jim Kirk nó Pike has clearly taken those lessons to heart. He works Leonard with skill, alternating slow strokes and gentle sucking with hot, hungry intensity, just barely using his teeth for added friction. Leonard moans, carding his fingers through Jim’s hair, his sounds of pleasure unfeigned and unguarded. Jim responds to this, making low, eager noises in the back of his throat, and that’s what completely undoes Leonard, makes him come, makes him cry out Jim’s name.

He sits there for a few moments, somnolent and panting and almost dumb with pleasure. Jim regards him thoughtfully, lips wet, eyes unreadable. “How long’s it been?” he asks.

Leonard lets loose a short bark of a laugh. “Too damn long. Clearly.” He pulls Jim up, draws him close and tries to kiss him again. Jim pulls back once more, and he frowns. “Sorry,” he adds. “I didn’t mean that to say anything about—just now. I just haven’t—done this in a long time.”

“Not even with other adepts?” Jim looks dubious at that, but Leonard can see him relaxing just a little. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” he assents. He twists his mouth, tries to keep the bitterness from showing. “I’m not an easy man to be with, even with Naamah’s grace, Elua knows.”

“People disappoint me,” Jim murmurs again, and pulls him close. Leonard settles for pressing a kiss to the place where Jim’s neck meets his shoulder. He can feel Jim’s heartbeat through his shirt, fast like a bird’s, feel the other man’s excitement hard against his thigh.

“Don’t let them,” Leonard whispers back. He nuzzles Jim, surprising himself with the sudden, genuine affection he feels for the other man. “Trust me.”

~

They go to bed then, and the experience is similar to that in the dining room. Jim is eager for Leonard, giving him pleasure with lips and tongue, exploring every inch of his body. Leonard gives Jim free reign to do as he will, only once stopping to beg for Jim to take him, but the other man grows still at that, freezes, and something flits over his face. Leonard knows something is wrong, then, but he isn’t sure what. Jim is all too eager to give pleasure, but something prevents him from wanting to receive it as well.

Leonard is confused, uncertain, with this attitude. He’s never experienced this with another patron, and he’s not sure what Jim wants. They don’t seem to be playing the games that Valerian and Mandrake House are so fond of, but Jim doesn’t ask him anything directly either.

The third time Jim withholds himself from Leonard, cock upright and bobbing, but refusing to allow himself to be touched, he finally speaks.

“Tell me what you want me to do, Jim,” he says. “Tell me, and I’ll do it. Just—stop playing with me, okay?”

“I’m not playing with you, Leonard.” Jim’s voice is low in the half light of the room, but he seems sincere enough. “It’s just—I can’t—“ He can’t even bring himself to finish.

Leonard frowns. He thinks of what he knows of Jim Kirk, from the moment Nero attacked Pike’s household to the moment Jim returned to the King, warning him of the Tiberian fleet.

“You weren’t—“ He pauses, breaks off, starts again. “Jim. When you were captured, was there—did they—heresy?” Dammit, he can’t even speak straight, and he’s a healer, too, but the very idea of this beautiful, kind man being abused, hurt, raped—it makes him sick to even contemplate.

When Jim doesn’t answer, he feels sicker still.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jim says. He is stock-still, arousal dimming, and Leonard watches him carefully.

“Alright then,” he says after a moment. “Will you let me give you a massage, at least? It won’t take care of that,” and he nods at Jim’s neglected erection, “but it will provide relief, at least. Well, something like relief, anyway.”

Jim relaxes at that. “That sounds nice.”

Leonard lights a few more lamps, then retrieves the small bag of oils from his trunk. He eyes his healer’s bag longingly, wishing it held something more that he could offer his patron, but if heresy is the sickness, then only time and care could heal that particular wound. A wave of revulsion for the Tiberians overcomes him, and he recites the old oath of Balm House to himself.

Naamah came in compassion, and so shall you…

Massage is one of the arts of Balm House, and with his long, steady fingers and the strength in them, Leonard is a master at the practice. He selects an oil with a soothing essence of chamomile and lilac, and runs his hands over Jim’s body freely at last. The blonde man relaxes under him, his long, wiry body loose and content as Leonard’s skilled touch removes tension and stress, abates thwarted passion.

“You turn my bones to water,” Jim murmurs sleepily.

Leonard represses a chuckle. “Thanks. I think.”

“Mmm. Should call you Bones.”

“Please don’t.” But there’s laughter in his voice, genuine, and something within him squeezes at it, because he likes Jim, wants him, and he wishes he had the ability and time to give the man the healing he craves. But he doesn’t, so instead he admires Jim’s marque.

In the Houses of the Night Court, the traditional marques of each House are given to each adept when their freedom is purchased. For those few Servants of Naamah not pledged to a specific House, an individual symbol is devised by the marquist in homage to the owner’s personality.

Leonard has never seen anything quite like the art that adorns Jim’s skin.

It is a mountain scene, first of all, instead of the flowers so common to the other Servants. Wispy clouds clothe steep crags, and it is somehow peaceful yet warning of danger at the same time. In the foreground is a dark, deceptively fragile orchid that sprouts from the base of Jim’s spine to full flowering just below his neck. In the petals and leaves of the flower, colored in deep reds, blues, and purples, there is the hint of stars that somehow suggests a celestial yearning. Altogether, it is a beautiful, haunting image, rather like the man who wears it.

As Leonard’s hands massage Jim’s shoulders, he feels unexpected roughness in the decorated skin: slight puckers and ripples of flesh. He investigates by touch as subtly as he can, not wishing Jim to know what he’s doing. But the other man seems to have fallen asleep, or is at least drowsing heavily, so he peers closer, and yes, he was right.

Jim’s marque also hides a latticework of fine scars. They are long, spanning the length of his back, and criss-crossed in places. The whip, or whatever had been used on him, had cut deep, too, to leave marks like this. Old as far as he can tell. Blessed Elua, Jim must have been a child when he received these!

Leonard ponders what the other man must have been through, and a burgeoning anger flows through him. He concentrates on a breathing exercise to calm himself as he washes the oil from his hands, and then retrieves a small brazier from his bag. He selects a handful of herbs, and in a few minutes a comforting, wafting steam of scent circulates throughout the room.

Jim is firmly asleep by then, and Leonard sits down near the bed with a small sigh. “What do you expect me to do, Jim?” he murmurs to himself. Jim’s mouth is half open in his sleep, but there is no answer.

~

Morning is well advanced when they wake up, rays of sunlight falling over them. Leonard wakes just before Jim does, and the sun makes the other man look even more golden. He opens his eyes at Leonard’s regard, lips twitching.

“Hello there,” he says. He takes in his own dishabille, nude and splayed across the majority of the bed, Leonard half dressed in breeches and open tunic lounging in the nearby chair. “What are you doing all the way over there?”

“Looking after you, you damn fool,” Leonard says automatically, then shuts his jaw tightly. This is exactly the sort of thing that usually irked patrons—but Jim laughs, and stretches luxuriously. If he’s insulted or irritated by the Servant’s words, he shows no sign of it.

“I slept like a rock,” Jim says instead. “What did you do, man?” He crosses his arms behind his head, his expression as contented as a cat’s as he looks around the room, spying the brazier with its remainders from the night before.

“Massage, remember? And then some calming herbs for—calming,” he concludes lamely. Calming herbs for calming? Blessed Elua have mercy, Leonard, get a fucking grip!

Jim’s lips quirk upwards at that, but he says nothing, stretching once more before jumping out of bed. He retrieves clothing from a nearby wardrobe, pulling it on quickly. “Let’s get some breakfast, Bones,” he says, “and then, how about a lesson in swordplay?” He waggles his eyebrows playfully.

Leonard stares at him. “Bones?”

~

They enter the kitchen itself to retrieve breakfast. No one seems to find this strange. The cook is a funny little man named Keenser, who putters around a stove and an oven, checking pots and pans ostentatiously. When Jim tries to take a peek in one of them, Keenser shuts it quickly, gibbering angrily in an unknown language.

Jim steps back with a grin, answering in the same tongue, before turning to Leonard. “He’s a genius. Very territorial. Don’t piss him off.” And with that, he steals a pair of fat fruit and cheese rolls off a cooling rack, tossing one to Leonard. This sets Keenser off again, and they are unceremoniously pushed out of the kitchen. Jim chuckles as he tears into the pastry. “C’mon, Bones,” he says with his mouth full, leading him outside into the orchards. “Follow me.”

“Are you always like this?” Leonard asks. It’s early summer, and the air is warm with a slight breeze. They sit beneath the apple trees as they eat. The bread is still warm, studded with fat sweet raisins and filled with a soft, sweet cheese. Leonard chews slowly, savoring the treat.

“Like what?” Jim has finished his roll, and is licking his fingers unselfconsciously. The gesture is boyish, and unintentionally sensual as that clever pink tongue darts out briefly.

“I don’t know,” Leonard says honestly. “You’re just—I’ve never met anyone like you. It’s—confusing.”

Jim grins at him, that familiar cocksure expression. The grin reaches his eyes though, and the light blueness of them is warm. “That a good thing, Bones?”

Leonard makes a face at him. “You keep calling me that. Why?”

“It suits you.” Jim is unapologetic, and with a mischievous smile he scoots closer, eyeing him with that frank, sensual look that Leonard has come to recognize. Warmth floods through him in response: he wants Jim, too.

“Shall we go back inside?” he suggests, breath hitching as Jim’s long, clever fingers begin to undo the laces of his tunic.

“No,” Jim says shortly, plucking at his breeches. “Here. Now.” Leonard’s cock is freed, and Jim takes it into his mouth hungrily. Leonard leans back, bracing himself against one of the trees, cupping the back of Jim’s skull as the other man gives himself over to the act of the languissement. One hand cups his testicles gently, the other venturing further to tentatively explore the area around his hole.

“Blessed Elua, Jim,” Leonard mumurs, “you tryin’ to kill me? Ah!” For all he knows, Jim may have made an assenting sound, spurred on by his words, and his mouth is hot and soft around him, and—“God!”

He comes quickly, undone by the cleverness of Jim’s talented tongue. He pants heavily, body throbbing with pleasure. Jim’s own breeches are tented with his arousal, and he eyes the bulge there hungrily. “You gonna let me return the favor, at least?”

Jim hesitates, then shakes his head, standing and moving away. “Compromise, Bones,” he says as he frees his cock. He leans against the back of another tree, legs spread slightly, tunic bunched and pulled to the side to expose the flat planes of his lower stomach, the line of hair that begins just below his navel and travels down to the juncture between his thighs.

“I want to hear you talk to me,” Jim says. “I love your voice—the way you sound—sound when you’re about to lose it—“ His voice stumbles slightly as he works himself, fingers stroking up and down his own shaft, toying and plucking at the fat head of it. Another bolt of desire surges through Leonard, and while what he wants more than anything is to pull Jim down and run his hands over every inch of him, taste his skin, swallow his cries of joy, he does as he is bid.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, Jim,” Leonard says with sincere appreciation. “You don’t even know what you do to me. I want to do so many things to you—I want to taste you, take your cock in my mouth and suck it hard“—Jim makes a strangled sound at that, hands moving faster—“I want to feel you come, taste your joy, swallow it down—“ He breaks off as Jim comes with a cry, spurting over his fingers. He leans back with a dazed look, then, panting. Beautiful.

Fuck. Leonard wants to touch him, pull him close. He doesn’t dare.

After a moment, Jim stumbles down to sit next to him once more, rearranging his clothing into a semblance of order. Leonard takes a chance, pulling the man close to him, wrapping his arms about him. Jim lets him, at least, and Leonard presses a kiss to the top of the blonde man’s head. His hair smells clean and warm, and he nuzzles Jim with something dangerously close to affection.

He’s a patron, nothing more, Leonard, he tells himself sternly. You might not even see him again. Be careful.

“Be careful, Bones,” Jim says in an uncanny echo of this thoughts. “I’m not good for anyone. You should know that.”

“I doubt that,” Leonard says with a false lightness. He holds the other man closer to him. “Everyone here seems to love you.”

Jim snorts. “They have to,” he says. “They work for me.”

“Bullshit. Take it from one who knows—that kind of loyalty is rare. Believe me.” He stares at the sky through the crossed limbs of the trees above them and thinks of Naamah, then. He loves Her, but sometimes he hates Her a little too—how She can raise desire in him, but take it from his patrons, take it and withhold his freedom. Shaking his head, he looks back down at Jim, who’s looking up at him with an unguarded and strangely hopeful look.

There you are, he thinks, though unsure of what it means, exactly, and he pulls the younger man to him for a kiss without thinking. Jim lets him, though, this time at least, and his mouth is warm and sweet, tasting of the sweet rolls they had for breakfast. His breath hitches as Leonard deepens the kiss, caressing Jim’s tongue with his own playfully.

“Bones,” Jim mutters softly when they pause for air, and then he’s pulling him down into the grass. They twine their legs together, lazily trading kisses and caresses in the sunshine.

Leonard thinks with relief that Jim is finally opening up to him. He’s only partially right.

~

Pavel retrieves Jim’s arms for him, and a set of training gear for Leonard. Jim’s daggers are steel, their hilts silver. His vembraces are white. Pavel brings Leonard a set of wooden mock-daggers, and a pair of brown vembraces. Jim helps Leonard tie the things on—they cover each arm from wrist to a few inches below the elbow.

“How do they feel?” Jim wants to know. “Alright?”

Leonard moves his arms experimentally. “Fine, I guess,” he answers. “I’ve never been one for fighting, so…” He shrugs.

Jim grins at him. “You’re a lover, not a fighter.”

“Pretty much.”

Jim gets a faraway look to his eyes then. “Me, too, once.” Then he snaps out of it. “Here, let me draw the practice circle.” Taking a stick, he draws a circle of about eight feet around them in the dirt. When he’s done, he looks up and grins again, a wild, impish look.

Leonard starts to have second thoughts about this whole thing, then.

“Stand here,” Jim instructs, moving Leonard to the middle of the circle. “You’ll be my ward, and I’ll be your Companion.”

“The Perfect Companion,” Leonard says, because he can’t help himself. To his surprise, Jim flushes slightly, the tips of his ears turning pink.

“So,” Jim continues, not answering that, “you stay there, and then I tell the hours. The general idea is to be a human shield and sword for one’s ward.” He takes out the pair of daggers, twirling them in his hands as a warming-up exercise. Standing directly in front of Leonard, he says, “This is the twelve o’clock position.” He shifts to the right, moving counter-clockwise, bringing his daggers up. “One o’clock.” Another step to the right, moving slightly backwards, one dagger up and the other held angled before him. “Two o’clock.”

He continues in this way, Leonard staying in place but moving to watch him as he counts the hours, each position having a specific stance of body and weapon, a specific location in relation to Leonard himself. When he’s back at the starting position, Jim grins at him.

“Now imagine we’re under attack,” he says, and he repeats the motions, moving quickly. It is beautiful and terrible at once, how the poetry of body can be applied to a killing dance like this. Leonard can’t help but admire Jim’s grace, though, even in simulated violence.

He would have made a remarkable Cassiline.

After he’s repeated the telling of the hours, Jim grins at Leonard. “Ready?”

Leonard nods. “Here goes.”

Jim stands behind Leonard, body close to his. It’s a good thing the two men are of like height and build—it makes it easy for Jim to stand behind him, thighs to thighs, arms around his as he guides him in the motions. The Cassilines have elaborate names for all the stances of battle, Jim explains: the flowing river, the reed in the wind. And of course, the terminus.

“Did they teach you that, too?” Leonard asks curiously.

Jim nods. Without a word he takes the position.

The terminus is the last act a Companion can ever perform for his ward: one dagger placed under the chin and against the throat, the other upright between fingers, ready to throw.

It is performed when the Companion realizes he can no longer protect his ward from danger. In his last act, he will kill them both, quickly and painlessly.

So the legends say.

Jim’s expression is blank, his eyes unreadable. Leonard looks at him, feels his stomach sicken and tears threaten. The reaction is as visceral as it is unexpected: “Stop,” he says. “Just—don’t.”

“What’s wrong?” Jim looks shaken as he brings the daggers down. His face no longer has that horrible, hopeless look to it. “Bones?”

Leonard is abruptly angry. “Tell me you’ve never thought of performing the terminus,” he demands. “Tell me.”

“I’ve never thought of performing the terminus,” Jim answers quickly, but there’s no conviction in his words.

Leonard looks at him, hard, but he doesn’t say a word.

Jim deflates a little. Exhaling loudly, he says, “I’ll—I’ll tell you, Bones. Just—not now. Okay?”

“Okay,” Leonard agrees. It’s something at least. Perhaps he can get to the mystery of Jim Kirk after all.


Part Two

Comments

( 16 comments — Add your .02 )
ennyousai
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
The Kushiel series are a complete guilty pleasure of mine, so I squeed when I saw this. :) It'll be something to look forward to after work.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yay!! I can't wait to hear what you think! *bounce bounce*
northernwalker
Nov. 15th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
I love this series, so the crossover is really interesting. I can definitely see Jim in Orchis, and if there was a Mandrake/Balm cross, it's definitely Bones.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
I know, right? *grin*
checkerboxed
Nov. 16th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
so i've never read the series, so i'm coming at this completely blind. but this is delightful to read, and i'm excited to get on to the next chapter~!
caitri
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Awesome, hope you like it!!
karmic_fic
Nov. 28th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
WONDERFUL.... i love how you didn't try to actually make it a retelling, but managed to sneak the chronicles in there any way.... this is superbly written and has be reading at the edge of my seat
caitri
Nov. 28th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
*grins happily* Glad you're enjoying it!!!
blcwriter
Feb. 9th, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC)
My hand is over my mouth as I read this. Just... OH.
karraparis
Jun. 5th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
I've never read the Kushiel books but this makes me want to read thme.
caitri
Jun. 6th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
Do eet. Do eet nao.
romanse1
Jan. 6th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC)
Ok, straight up, this is one of the most rockin'est fics I've come across in awhile. I have no idea what the Kushiel series is, but it quite clearly makes for a Fabulous AU that totally has my attention!

Way to rock a story!
caitri
Jan. 6th, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
*G* Glad you liked it, though just to check, you did go to page 2, yes? :)
romanse1
Jan. 6th, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
Not yet. I had to go and finish a project and now it's late so I'm going to bed, but I'll be back in the AM bright and early! I'm VERY much looking forward to listening to all of the series via NaturalReader.
caitri
Jan. 6th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Ah okay! I was just checking cos that's happened before. <3
drkmgic
Aug. 11th, 2015 06:18 am (UTC)
Ive never heard of this series but now im so curious. Time to google kushiel
( 16 comments — Add your .02 )

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